How can eCommerce (EC) be a business pressure and an organizational response? Has EC somehow lost the human interaction or touch? Why do businesses change their business models in the digital age? How has EC affected dynamic and fixed pricing of products or services? What are the risks of using Web 2.0 tools? These questions are the gist of this paper and they will be discussed briefly herein.
Business Pressure and Organizational Response
With ever-changing business climates, globalization, technical advancements, changing governmental rules, and societal factors are creating a highly competitive business environment. Many of these factors can change quickly and unpredictably (Turban, 2012). Business must be nimble and agile in order to respond to the circumstances. Electronic Commerce (EC) can be the means in which a company responds effectively to an ever-changing business environment.
These business pressures are divided into a market (economical), societal, and technological categories. The market or economic, pressures include stronger competition, much from a global economy; includes regional trade agreements, such as NAFTA, and low wages in many third world nations. Societal pressure includes the changing workforce, government regulation/deregulation, shrinking governmental subsidies or increasing subsidies, and rapid political changes including terrorism. Technical pressures are due to the rapid change in technology almost on a daily basis including product obsolescence and rapid advancement.
The question of how EC can be a business pressure and an organizational pressure can be seen in having to respond to the various changes that occur in the marketplace, in society, or in government changes that occur. An example would be when Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) was passed by the Federal Government in response to gross accounting irregularities of companies like Enron and WorldCom. The law imposed stringent requirements on accounting reporting and management’s responsibility for the information contained therein. The business pressure was the SOX requirements and how could EC provide the answer to meeting those requirements. Today there are many accounting applications businesses can use that are readily accessible from the cloud such as Intuits QuickBooks.
Elimination of Human Touch
Some claim that digital business eliminates the “human touch”. The loss of human contact with the digital age is likely a tad overblown. While there have been significant changes in manufacturing due to automation, there has also been a significant increase in the number of ways in which we are able to reach out and touch someone. When you get down to it, EC has really created much more ways for humans to interact with the world around us (NSF, 2015)
The coming of digital technology has certainly changed the way people interact and do business. For example, people used to talk with each other face-to-face. We had to go to the local store in order to buy a loaf of bread. Of course, that type of communication took place in a very limited manner and it was with people who lived within your local community. Today millions of people across the world are interacting via Facebook. One can call a friend living in Holland from the US at little to no costs and talk for hours using Skype. Our local community has become worldwide. Just because we use Facebook for better than three hours a day on average doesn’t relinquish the requirement to build trust and lasting friendships (Fuller, 2014). We still need that human contact as a species.
Changing Business Models
Why do companies frequently change their business model? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Companies frequently change their business models when it becomes either advantageous or necessary to do so. Advantageous because the business stands to gain financially from making an EC change that would make them more competitive. Necessary because if the business doesn’t change they will be less competitive and perhaps out of business as a result.
An example would be when many companies like Sears and JC Penney decided to quit producing their old line print catalogs in favor of producing an online catalog of the goods they sell. By producing the catalog online they were able to see huge cost savings and an increase in sales. Plus, each company was able to reach out to many more potential customers by using social media, email, and online advertising to draw people to their online catalogs (Turban, 2012).
Effects on Dynamic and Fixed Pricing
Discuss the advantages of dynamic pricing over fixed pricing? What are the potential disadvantages of dynamic pricing? Dynamic pricing is based on supply and demand of a given product. The pricing is considered dynamic as it fluctuates depending on the circumstances of supply and demand. The process could include a company posting a bid to buy or sell a product, a forward/reverse auction; buyers/sellers see the offers/bids online and they interact in real time competing with the other buyers/bidders but they may not whom they are competing with. Many variables have to come into play in order for the transaction to be completed such as price, time, location and other variables before the transaction is completed (Turban, 2012). The advantages are numerous for these types of interactions. It is easier to conduct an auction online than it is at a physical location; one has to actually secure a location, hire people to help run the auction, bring the product to the location. EBay, for instance, conducts auctions on hundreds of thousands of products daily without a physical structure in which to show all of these products. Everything is shown in the customer’s living room on their computers. These customers can view the products at their leisure when they want to. They can watch the bidding in real time, they know what they’re buying, and thus eBay is not losing customers due to the fast nature of live auctions.
Fixed pricing means the price is set, the only negotiating may be quantity price breaks or sales deals of the moment. Many companies offer the opportunity for the consumer, mostly on the retail side, to do comparison shopping so they can see if they’re getting a good deal at a good price.
Web 2.0 Risks
Web 2.0 tools include social media, wikis, blogs, Business Intelligence Analytics, dashboards, chat rooms and much more than can be listed here. The ability of Web 2.0 to change our lives has been tremendous and exciting. One of the main risks with Web 2.0 is that it has opened us up to the possibility of fraud. Craigslist is an example of where the possibility of fraud exists as there have been numerous complaints of illegal ads and other practices (Wikipedia, 2016). Security issues abound, especially with credit card usage. Hackers have the ability to access transactions as they occur, especially at ATM’s. The government realizes the benefits of using Web 2.0 technology, but they also understand the risks (Uthayasankar, Zahir, & Vishanth, 2015). Today we see the proliferation of anti-virus software like Norton, or the growth of cybersecurity companies like Palo Alto, Inc. Many companies, when considering using Web 2.0, have to weigh the benefits with the risks. They have teams of developers that concentrate on areas that help to secure the benefits being delivered.
Has EC had a profound affect on our lives. Yes, it has, even for those who claim it hasn’t. Everywhere we go we see the effect of Web 2.0 technology being used even if we don’t realize it. Business are constantly changing the way they do business. People are communicating more and sharing more than at any time in human history. Just look at Facebook for proof of sharing. Does it all have its downside? Of course, it does. Jobs have been eliminated due to changes in technology. Just look at the coal industry as an example; in 1920, almost 785,00 people were working in the coal industry. Today around 80,000 are employed in the production or use of coal. The cause of the decline is due to modernization (SourceWatch, 2015). Is it risky to use Web 2.0 technology, yes it is. But the benefits outweigh the risks. Just looking at the effect on dynamic pricing activities shows how much more efficient the whole system works is proof of the positive effect on society Web 2.0 has had.
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